Chris James: Recruiting for the Illini

Morgan Park Wide Receiver Chris James committed to Ron Zook's Fighting Illini this past week, and now his goal is to bring as many of his friends with him as possible to Champaign. Read more on Chris James in this update from's Allen Wallace.

Chicago (Ill.) wide receiver Chris James (6-0, 185, 4.55) has decided to end the recruiting process early, committing to coach Ron Zook and his staff at the University of Illinois. James also claimed other offers from Minnesota, Michigan State, Ohio State, Kansas, Penn State, Tennessee and Northern Illinois.

"This is a 95% commitment to Illinois for me. I mean, you can never be 100% with a program until you've signed that Letter-of-Intent or you're playing in your first practice with a program," said James, from Morgan Park High School.

"I've told my coach and the coaching staffs at Minnesota, Northern Illinois and Notre Dame (no offer) about my commitment so far. Right now, I'm undecided if I'll be taking any official or unofficial visits to any other programs out there in the future.

"I'm just glad that the pressure of committing is off me now so that I can focus on winning a state championship with my team and having fun with the rest of high school and with football on that level," he said.

"I committed to Illinois in person on May 20, when coaches Zook and (Reggie) Mitchell (running backs) were at my high school visiting me. But I told them about it, and gave them my verbal over the phone on May 18, after I participated in the Maine South High School Quarterback and Wide Receiver Camp. There were a lot of other coaches from other programs there, but none of the coaches from Illinois were there. The coaches from Illinois were ecstatic that I committed there and they told me that they were happy to have me as part of their program.

"I just felt the most comfortable with the program at Illinois. It feels like the place for me to be. Out of all the schools that offered me and were actively recruiting me, me and my family noticed that I seemed more interested with Illinois' program over the others. I just talked about them more and showed more interest in them.

"I really like the coaches there, especially coach (Dino) Dawson (wide receivers). He seems to know me on a great level so far, and I feel comfortable with him. I wanted to get this out of the way so that I could focus on the season ahead, and also on my grades because I still need to qualify. As the recruiting process goes on into the season, everything gets harder and harder, and there's more pressures that you've got to deal with as a player. I just wanted to end all of those pressures.

"I like how Illinois is starting off with a new coaching staff and a fresh new offense. Being there feels like being at Morgan Park and I like that quality of the program," he said.

James is also close friends with Isiah Williams and team-mates of Ramone Johnson and quarterback/cousin Demetrius Jones. "I'm going to be on all those guys about Illinois, and I'm going to do my best to recruit them for the program. I mean, I live in the same room as my cousin Demetrius, so I'm going to put it in his ear every day, and try and get him to go to Illinois too. He's like a brother to me, and I'm going to support any decision he makes, but I'm also going to push Illinois on him."

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